Eli Manning on Conner Vernon

Staff writerApril 12, 2013 

Peyton and Eli Manning stopped by Duke this week for what amounted to a three-day minicamp hosted by Blue Devils head coach David Cutcliffe. You can read all about that here.

In addition to the professional wide receivers running around (which included the likes of Wes Welker, Hakeem Nicks, Victor Cruz, Eric Decker and a few others), former Duke wide receiver Conner Vernon worked extensively with the Mannings as well. It's not the first time Vernon has worked with the Mannings—two years ago, he caught passes for Eli, and last year he worked a bit with Peyton during his rehab.

Peyton said he thought Vernon, who is projected as a late-round pick, would be a valuable addition to any NFL roster. Eli had similar praise for his abilities.

"The last couple of years I’ve worked out with Conner a little bit, thrown routes with him, played 7-on-7 with him a few years ago, and he kept getting open," Eli said. "I noticed that I keep going his way. He’s my first read on some things, and he’s winning on some post routes and go routes. The last couple years with Coach Cutcliffe and watching Duke, he has a lot of catches every game and a lot of touchdowns. It’s been fun to watch him."

While Vernon typically draws comparisons to Welker, for reasons that have more to do with appearance than actual football skills, Cutcliffe said he was more similar to Decker, who also plays for the Broncos.

"I think Conner can play inside or outside," Cutcliffe said, as opposed to Welker, whom he called the best inside route runner he had seen in person. "Eric Decker came in here and worked and worked and worked. He was great with Conner. They’re somewhat similar in their approach. "

Vernon, for his part, said he tried to stick to observing the pros instead of barraging them with questions.

"I didn’t want to be that guy who was taking them off their game and being that nagging guy. Every now and then, I would ask a few things here and there, but I would really just watch them work," Vernon said. "I didn’t want to be that guy that was that groupy fan."

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